Here’s How to Find the Best Home Security System

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Here's how to find the best home security system to protect your property, but more importantly, the safety of your family.

No matter where you live, it’s important to feel safe in your home. But feeling safe and truly being protected against burglaries and home invasions can be two different things entirely.

Robert Siciliano, Chief Security Architect at ProtectNow, says while every home security system varies, “The fundamental purpose of an alarm is to alert the burglar that the clock is ticking and to alert the homeowner and law enforcement via alarm central in the event of an intrusion.”

Whether you need cameras, motion sensors, external monitoring or other features, here’s how to find the best home security system to protect your property, but more importantly, the safety of your family. You’ll also want to know these 21 things a burglar won’t tell you, too.

How much security should you be looking for?

In addition to your lifestyle, the location of your home is a major factor in evaluating what type of home security system you need. For example, “Systems that monitor when someone approaches your door or window might not be the best choice if you live in a densely populated or highly trafficked area,” says Cassie Tolhurst, safety advisor for Frontpoint. “Depending on what system you have, always err on the side of caution.” Keep in mind these 42 security nightmares lurking around your home.

Consider your needs

Ask yourself these questions to determine your needs, suggests Ana Bera, co-founder of Safe At Last: “How big is your [home]? Are you the homeowner or just renting the place? Do you plan to move soon? How many valuables do you keep in your home? What kind of neighborhood do you live in? Do you need to be able to control the security system remotely?”

Once you have a handle on what your needs will be, it’s easier to find a home security system that will meet them, and determine which is the best on the market. 

Identify access points before choosing equipment

Scan the premises from the point of view of someone who would want to break in, suggests Jeremy Stewart, vice president of Global Marketing for Swann. “Try to identify potential access points and what areas need monitoring. From there, you’ll know how many cameras you need and whether a wired or wire-free system is the best option,” he says.

What do motion sensors do?

Motion sensors are a must, according to Gabe Turner of Security Baron. “Motion sensors will let you know whenever there’s motion of any kind, while entry sensors can tell if a door or window is opened or closed. Glass break sensors can hear if glass is broken to fill in the gaps of the entry sensors.”

Do you need a security camera?

Cameras ensure extra security, but they aren’t always 100 percent necessary for every home. “If you live in a risky neighborhood or have a lot of valuables in your house, you should definitely install cameras. Make sure to place them strategically, so that you cover the most important parts of your home. Also, always have a camera at your front door,” says Bera. Alarms that send alerts to your phone are a smart option. These are some of the best-reviewed home-security cameras on the market.

Is it possible to have too much security?

When it comes to security, it turns out you can have too much of a good thing; kids, pets, and visitors can trigger false alarms. So while you want to be as safe as possible, it’s just as important to be realistic. False alarms can make you disregard a real problem, should it occur. “Because of this you might want to consider an alarm system that only triggers and turns on the siren when someone opens a door,” suggests Nils Mattisson, CEO and Co-Founder of Minut. These are mistakes that home security experts never make in their homes.

The one must-have feature for every home security system

No matter what system you chose, make sure it has a loud siren. “As a deterrent, the siren is a very important part that both lets the intruder know he’s been detected and which alerts people nearby that something isn’t right. This stresses a burglar out and will make him leave faster,” Mattisson says.

Wired v. wireless security system?

Stewart recommends wired security systems for medium to large-sized properties that need will more than four cameras. Wired systems must connect to both a power source as well as the Internet.

Wireless systems are best for anyone who rents, lives in a small space, or is planning to move. There are also many systems that can be self-installed, don’t require a long term contract and are affordably priced. These are powered through batteries or solar energy panels.

Is a professionally installed and monitored home security system better?

Having a professionally installed and monitored security system, such as ADT will ensure the equipment is always working properly. It’s also ideal for people who travel or spend a lot of time away from home. “You should always look at getting a professionally installed, monitored system,” says Rod Pettingill of Safe Streets. “A monitored system has people dedicated to responding if your alarm goes off so even if you’re in a movie, camping, or just don’t notice your phone go off, the right first responders can be dispatched to your home.”

Do self-installed home security systems provide enough protection?

If affordability is a factor and you don’t need to guard your home like Fort Knox, a self-installed system should be adequate. Every system has its own features, but you should be able to customize everything to fit your needs. Another advantage of a self-installed system is that you can take it with you if you move.

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Amanda Lauren
Amanda Lauren is a design and lifestyle expert who covers all things home for RD and among other publications. When she's not in front of a computer, recording her podcast Bougie Adjacent, or re-arranging furniture, she enjoys Los Angeles with her husband and wrangling their two dogs, Milo and Lulu.